7.9/10
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104 user 46 critic

The Unknown (1927)

Unrated | | Drama, Horror, Romance | 4 June 1927 (USA)
A criminal on the run hides in a circus and seeks to possess the daughter of the ringmaster at any cost.

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Writers:

(story), (scenario) | 1 more credit »
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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
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Nick De Ruiz ...
Zanzi
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...
Costra
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Storyline

Alonzo is an armless knife thrower and gun shooter for a circus---or so he appears. He is actually a burglar with his arms intact. He and his accomplice, Cojo (a little person), are hiding from the police, and Alonzo views his disguise as perfect, especially since it keeps from view an unusual deformity of his left hand that would immediately give him away as the burglar. Nanon, the daughter of the circus owner, is the target in his act. Although Alonzo is in love with her, Nanon's father despises him. Nanon is attracted to Malabar, the circus strong man, but she is also repulsed by his uninhibited sexual advances and desire to touch and hold her. Apparently her phobia extends to the touch of any man. Alonzo feeds her fears in the hopes that Nanon will fall in love with him since he is "armless." Because Zanzi discovers Alonzo really has arms, Alonzo kills him, but Nanon witnesses the killing without seeing Alonzo's face; however, she does see the telltale deformity of his left hand. ... Written by Patrick Robbins <elfdorado@sbcglobal.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A superb mystery thriller, unusual and startling even for a Chaney film. Lon as "The Unknown" eats, drinks, shoots a rifle and dresses with his feet. Don't miss this startling spectacle. (Print Ad- The Cobbleskill Index,((Cobbleskill, NY)) 13 October 1927)


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

4 June 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alonzo the Armless  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$217,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (BFI print) | (alternate)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2012 director Guy Maddin named this one of the ten best films ever made in the decennial "Sight & Sound" Directors Poll of the Greatest Films of All Time. See more »

Goofs

When Alonzo and Cojo are drinking wine, the glass suddenly fills between shots. See more »

Quotes

Malabar the Mighty, Circus Strongman: There is a time for fear, Nanon... and a time for hate... and a time for love.
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Connections

Referenced in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Very Weird Movie
13 April 2003 | by See all my reviews

"The Unknown" has to have one of the strangest plots of any movie I've seen, but I can't describe it without spoiling it. Suffice to say; coming from the mind of Tod Browning who set the story in a traveling carnival, you know it's going to be delving into some heavy weirdness.

"The Unknown" is a silent film starring Lon Chaney, Sr., as carnival star Alonzo the Armless, an expert with gun and knife, who, because of his condition, must use his feet instead of hands. His assistant and unrequited love interest is Nanon, played by a very young and beautiful Joan Crawford. There's a love triangle between these two and the carnival strong man, and oh, what Alonzo won't do to win his ladylove.

My only regret is that I saw the 49-minute version taped off of Turner Classic Movies, and the movie does go by quickly. Short as it is though, it's a weird and entertaining trip.


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